The main railroad from St. Petersburg to Berlin was laid in 1829 and passed through the city, connecting Mariampol, Kovno (Kaunas), and St. Petersburg with Suwalki and Warsaw. This railway quickened Mariampol’s growth in the 19th century. (1)
During Lithuania’s independence from 1918 to 1940, Mariampol grew again. The old market place, around which the stores were clustered, was razed. On the eastern side of the square a huge market hall was built. The streets were repaved, sidewalks were laid, and a sewer system was installed. Two reinforced concrete bridges were built over the river; and a hydroelectric plant was built. Many private and public buildings were constructed. (2)
There were three flour mills, a saw mill, an electric station, some small industries, and vegetable gardens operated by Jewish residents. (3) In 1923 Mariampol was connected with the Kazlova Ruda-Alytus and the Berlin-Moscow railroads. (4)
New industries included a cotton textile company, a woolen cloth factory, a sugar factory, a milk-processing company, a seed-oil refinery, beverage workshops, stockyards, agricultural machinery workshops, a brickyard, and clay-tile workshops. There were banks, cooperatives, stores, economic, professional, and cultural societies. There were two coeducational public high schools, a classical boys’ school, a Jewish high school for boys and girls, a craft school, and a pedagogic seminary. Publishing houses had their own printing presses. During this time Mariampol had a library of 50,000 volumes. In 1940 the books were taken away by the Bolsehviks to Kovno. There were two Catholic churches, one Protestant church, one synagogue, a monastery, and a convent. (5)
Cultural and National Center
Mariampol remained an important Lithuanian educational and cultural center throughout the 19th century. Despite the fact that the Lithuanian language was forbidden to be taught under both Polish and Russian direction, the Lithuanians in Mariampol provided leadership to maintain their language and culture. Russian attempts to gain influence over Lithuanian students were unsuccessful. National feelings were strengthened among these students. Six graduates of Mariampol High School signed the 1918 declaration of Lithuania independence. (6)
During the socialist movement and the revolution of 1905, Jewish youths were sentenced to hard labor in Siberia for their participation in action against imperial Russia. (7)
Most of the inhabitants were Jewish. (8) During the first few weeks of the war in 1914 the city was near the front. Many Jews were expelled (9) to Siberia by the Bolsheviks. (10) When the Germans recaptured the town, the Jews began to return. The Germans sent many other Jews from other towns to settle in Mariampol. (11)
Lithuania regained its independence from 1918 to 1940. Lithuania was first occupied by the Soviet Russians on 15 June 1940. Preparing for communist rule, all enterprises and stores were nationalized. All societies, private schools, monasteries, and institutions were closed. Economic and cultural activities were paralyzed. On 22 June 1941 the German army took over the city. The center of the city and the side streets were heavily damaged. (12)
From 1941 to 1944 some self-governing offices functioned, but the city was not rebuilt while it was under German occupation. When the Russians occupied the city for the second time during the summer of 1944, the city was destroyed even more. (13)
In 1950 Mariampol became a district seat, and in 1953 under the Soviet regime the name of Mariampol was changed to Kapsukas. In 1958 the ruins from World War II were cleared, and the city was replanned. (14)
(1) Birzys, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 472.
(2) Birzys, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 475.
(3) Schoenberg, Lithuanian Jewish Communities, 183.
(4) Birzys, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 472.
(5) Birzys, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 475.
(6) Birzys, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 474.
(7) Schoenberg, Lithuanian Jewish Communities, 183.
(8) Mapa Topograficzna Polski, Skorowidz Map 1:100 000.
(9) Schoenberg, Lithuanian Jewish Communities, 182.
(10) Mapa Topograficzna Polski, Skorowidz Map 1:100 000.
(11) Schoenberg, Lithuanian Jewish Communities, 183.
(12) Birzys, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 475.
(13) Birzys, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 475-76.
(14) Birzys, Encyclopedia Lituanica, 476.